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The Duality of Man

(July 11, 2005)

It's been over a hundred years since Robert Louis Stevenson wrote The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the definitive essay on the dual nature of the human species, and more than a century later, this inner battle between the good and evil that resides in all of us is still causing momentous grief, as the recent terrorist attacks in London brutally remind us.

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On Thursday morning, three bombs exploded within seconds of each other in the London underground rail system, killing dozens and maiming hundreds. An hour later a bomb exploded on a double decker bus, causing even more unspeakable carnage. At this hour, rescue workers are still toiling through the underground rubble, but so far the death toll is at 52, with a staggering 700 injured, with terrible burns and amputations.

What could possibly incite someone to wreak such misery upon their fellow human beings? To mass murder innocent souls? To rip and ruin flesh and bone?

To answer that question all you have to do is imagine you had a son or daughter on one of those trains, and they were killed, and you had to identify their mangled remains. After the initial despair, you will begin to loath and hate the person who did this, and you will want to do to them what they did to your child. Welcome to Mr. Hyde.

You are now just like the terrorist. You are experiencing the same hate, and the same violent passion. Fortunately, for you the moment passes. Before you can do anything silly, a lifetime of conditioning, and an environment of support sends Mr. Hyde back down into the dark depths of your soul, where he waits, patiently, for the next time, your next moment of weakness.

Mr. Hyde lives in all of us. Just how angry, or scared, or desperate would you have to be before you let him take over? We all have our breaking point. We also live fairly safe, comfortable lives, with no reason to find out where that breaking point is. People who put bombs on trains obviously passed their breaking point a long time ago, and Mr. Hyde is now in control.

There is no way to protect ourselves from terrorism. There is no way to protect every train, every restaurant, and every tall building. Mr. Hyde is devious, and determined. Just ask Clifford Olsen, or Paul Bernardo. The only way to deal with Mr. Hyde is to teach people to recognize him, and control him, at an early age. That means setting global education standards that advocate tolerance, and non-violence. That's all. Too many children are raised in an environment that encourages prejudice, and glorifies fighting. That has to stop.

Wars don't stop terrorism. Mr. Hyde loves wars. Mr. Hyde feeds on wars. Everybody in a war becomes a terrorist. We've got to trade the war room for the classroom. We've got to trade the bombs for books. Or we will be dealing with the horrors of terrorism for a long, long time.

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